Two congenic lines of mice, one with a partial deletion of the Y chromosome, differ in the percentage of spermatozoa with abnormal heads: B10.BR/SgSn males give 22.6% and B10.BR-Ydel/Ms males give 64.2% abnormal sperm. The F1s resulting from crosses of B10.BR/SgSn males with females of five common inbred strains exhibited significantly lower levels of abnormal sperm than the parental strains, as opposed to F1 hybrids sired by B10.BR-Ydel/Ms mutant males, where very high levels of abnormal spermatozoa were found. About 30% of abnormal spermatozoa, produced by males with deletion on the Y chromosome, were characterized by a flat acrosomal cap. This class of abnormality was never observed in non-mutant males, suggesting a mutant-specific defect. These results demonstrate the important role of the Y chromosome in spermatogenesis.